Prepping for a VO Session – For Producers

Prepping for a VO Session – For Producers

There is a lot of advice out there for voice over (VO) talent looking for the best ways to prepare for a recording session but there is far less information out there for producers who want to be equally prepared. The following tips will help you, the producer, make sure that once the red “recording” light has been lit and talent is in the booth, you can focus on getting the best performance possible in an efficient way.

The Basics
Timeline – First contact with the recording studio
We’ll ask you a lot of questions when you first call to book time in the studio.

  • How long is the piece and what sort of project is it (feature length documentary with wall-to-wall narration, thirty-second commercial, five minute long video for the web, etc.)?
  • Do you need to record one talent, or multiple people?
  • Do you need help finding voice talent?
  • Are they professionals or amateurs?
  • Will they be coming to us, or will they be in a studio in another city requiring an ISDN line to record the session?
  • Will we need to patch in another producer via phone patch or Skype?
  • What are your deliverables (what types of files at what resolution)?
  • How will we get them to you?
  • Will you want us to edit the files?

If we edit the files before delivery, we’ll remove the sounds of the talent breathing and we’ll cut the files down to the best takes.  We can also post the raw files online for you instead, allowing your editor to choose best takes and do the de-breathing. Your answers to these questions will help us determine how much time you’ll need, which in turn will allow us to give you a pretty accurate estimate of how much the session will cost.

Will You Need to Record to Picture?
Timeline – 2-3 days before session
Let us know a few days in advance if you’ll need to record to picture. You’ll need to upload an H264 or Apple Pro Res 422 file with visual timecode approximately 24 hours before the session. The file should be 1920 x 1080 for HD. Sending it early will allow us to test it and make sure everything is running smoothly before the session is set to start.

Send the Script Before the Session
Timeline – 1 day before session
Your VO recording engineer will print out a few copies of the script and have them waiting for you and the talent when you arrive. Your script should include timecode cues and/or timings if needed.  Sending the script ahead of time will give the engineer the opportunity to ask questions in advance of your arrival if anything is unclear.

Phone Lines/Skype Numbers
Timeline – Day of the session
If you’ll need to dial up additional members of the production team to oversee the record, make sure you’ve got their numbers and/or Skype handles ready upon arrival. Skype sessions require invitations from both parties prior to the session.  Usually, it’s easier for us to initiate the invitation in most cases.  Our Skype information is as follows:

Full Name: HDA Suite 15
Skype Name: hdabooth

These tips will help you make the most of your recording time by ensuring that as much of it as possible is spent getting great takes from your talent.

Authored by: Eddie Hartness, Sue O’Hora, Suzonna Sullivan